Among the things that I am really enjoying about my new job is our monthly happy hour.
Yes, it’s a chance for the office to get together and socialize with a drink, but it’s also an opportunity to invite friends, colleagues, and prospective clients.
The other neat thing about this monthly tradition is that the venue for the Happy Hour is constantly changing. This is especially great for someone like me that is a new transplant.
There are regulars, but more often than not, the crowd is constantly changing serving as a great way to meet new people. And therein lies the real genius of the monthly happy hour: expanding your social network while having a good time. Think of it as combining both work and play.
And while not every office has the ability or desire to pull off a monthly happy hour, every one can choose to socialize after work hours with professionals in your industry. Easier said than done of course, especially those of us that have young children, but carving out time to make room to socialize may actually be good for your career.
Sure, there are other ways to expand your social network like attending lectures and seminars, but as anyone that’s ever organized an event, having alcohol at events does wonders to increase interest and turnout. And it’s usually here that people are most open to talking with complete strangers and looking for commonalities.
I recently had a chance to put this into practice when I attended a political social event a few months back. I struck up a conversation with someone attending the event and before long we had quickly bonded over having both lived in Washington, D.C. in our previous life. When asked how I was as acclimating to Nashville, I said that I was really enjoying it, but eager to find more opportunities for intellectual stimulation in the form of lectures and seminars.
It was at this point that this new acquaintance recommended reaching out to his good friend that was involved with a Rotary Club like organization in Nashville.
I am sure that there are instances in your own professional life when you made a valuable connection at a social gathering.
Of course, like other authors will tell you, there are ground rules you should follow when imbibing after work hours. The most obvious is drinking in moderation. As someone that has learned the hard way, drinking on an empty stomach is a terrible idea. The lesson: plan accordingly.
Besides drinking responsibly, have a game plan on how to work the room. In most circumstances, it’s completely acceptable to strike up a conversation with someone and then move on. The key is doing this gracefully without coming across as rude and inconsiderate.
And if it’s just the coworkers getting together after work for a drink, try to make it if you are able. Seeing that we spend more time in the office than just about anywhere else, it’s good to better know the people you are working with. Open up about your interests and background. Let your personality shine.
As the scientific community confirms, alcohol is indeed a social lubricant. Now make it work for your career and professional development.